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Evaluating OEM Programs and Providing Better Customer Experiences with Ibrahim Mesbah

Ibrahim Mesbah

Ibrahim Mesbah is the Co-founder and CEO of RevolutionParts, Inc., an e-commerce solution that helps dealers transform the way parts, buyers, and sellers connect. Before the founding of RevolutionParts eight years ago, Ibrahim worked in software development for both Inter-Tel and PayPal. Now, he is responsible for bringing life to innovative and accessible solutions, designing web applications that scale, developing and maintaining high-performing teams, and managing large-scale software.

Ibrahim is on a mission to disrupt and innovate the automotive space by creating the most active parts network in North America. Under his guidance, RevolutionParts has grown to over 1,500 customers with more than $1 billion in parts and accessories sales. Ibrahim is also a Dealer Marketing Expert Panelist.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • How Ibrahim Mesbah got into the automotive space and how he started RevolutionParts, Inc.

  • The biggest challenges Ibrahim faced when he entered the automotive space

  • The most important things dealers want to see in OEM programs

  • How the cost of OEM programs can affect sales and how the programs help dealers become more effective

  • What dealers can do to evaluate their performance and become more successful

  • Ibrahim talks about his company's future surveys and explains how they structure their OEM programs to be end-customer friendly

In this episode…

What factors do you consider when looking to adopt an OEM program for your dealership? What do you like or dislike about the program you currently use? What improvements would you like to see in the program?

When the team at RevolutionParts, Inc. carried out a survey to learn what dealerships wanted to see in the OEM programs they use, they found three key things at the top of their minds. What are they? Better support and communication from the manufacturers, a focus on e-commerce sales, and better employee training.

In this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay interviews Ibrahim Mesbah, the Co-founder and CEO of RevolutionParts, Inc., to talk about OEM programs and accessing data in the automotive industry. They discuss the need for OEM programs to provide dealer support, how the cost can affect their use, and how to create better customer experiences through the programs. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode...

This episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar, a company that helps car dealerships engage quality customers on the web and convert them into car buyers.

Co-founded by Aharon Horwitz, Yishai Goldstein, and Eliav Moshe, AutoLeadStar’s state-of-the-art software automates a dealership’s entire marketing funnel and provides around-the-clock service for dealers.

AutoLeadStar’s innovative technology helps dealerships automate ads, connect with customers, and discover ROI and performance metrics

Visit their website at to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:03

Welcome to InsideAuto Podcast, where we feature everyone and anyone you'd want to talk to you in and out of the automotive industry.

Ilana Shabtay 0:14

Ilana Shabtay here, host of InsideAuto Podcast, where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. Unfortunately, my co-host Aharon Horwitz can't make it today because he's at Digital Dealer. So for those listening, Digital Dealer booth 315, you can go stop by. And we have a really special guest today. So before we introduce today's guest, let me just quickly go through this episode sponsored by The Autoleadstar platform is built on a technology so powerful, it allows you to market, sell, and service cars as you would in the real world at scale and online making one to one matches between shoppers and inventory. Autoleadstar is the only platform that is powered by scale, speed, and specificity to change the way dealers do marketing today. Alright, now let's get into it. We are in season three. This is Episode two of season three. Again, our very special guest, Ibrahim Mesbah. Nice to have you today Ibrahim.

Ibrahim Mesbah 1:14

Thank you Ilana. Really nice to be here with you.

Ilana Shabtay 1:18

Awesome. Well, let me give you the proper intro you deserve. Ibrahim is the founder of RevolutionParts, an e-commerce solution that helps dealers transform the way parts buyers and sellers Connect before the founding of RevolutionParts. In 2013, Ibrahim worked in software development for both entertainment and PayPal. Now he's on a mission to disrupt and innovate the automotive space which we all are right creating the most active parts network in North America, and has led RevolutionParts to over 1500 customers with over $1 billion in parts and accessory sales, which is extremely impressive. I don't know much about this side of the business. So I'm excited to hear about it from you. And so before we begin in today's kind of a special episode, because we're going to talk to you he's also of course in a Dealer Marketing Expert Panelists. So we're going to dive into one of his recent articles. But before we do that, let us know how you get into automotive? How'd you get into the parts business? Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Ibrahim Mesbah 2:20

Yeah, no, thanks for that question. So, you know, like you mentioned before founding RevolutionParts, in, actually 2014. My wife, Nora worked with PayPal with, you know, my co-founder address, we're both engineers by trade and spent over five years there, PayPal as an EBay Company. And it was a great place to work. We learned a ton about e-commerce payments marketplaces, and grew a huge passion for that. And one of our friends ran a parts department at a local dealership here in Phoenix called showcase Honda. And, you know, always talked about how hard it was for him to really run an online business selling 100 parts. So it opened our eyes to opportunity, what we saw was, there were a lot of solutions in the marketplace that were severely lacking. So we felt that the industry was underserved. And the more we researched it, we were really convinced that we could take our huge passion for e-commerce and payments. And take that and have a big impact on the huge industry right around automotive so it's been over seven years now. And you know, I just honestly fell completely in love with the industry. I think there's still a ton of opportunity to really transform that experience, create a lot of value and do what we're really passionate about in just a really big space. So that's how it all got started.

Ilana Shabtay 3:49

Yeah, and I love that I really like hearing the stories specifically of people who worked in very successful technology companies outside of automotive and try to bring that innovation inside of automotive because we all know automotive is, you know, 1015 years behind every other space and actually on that, I'd love to know what what are like, what do you think especially coming from outside of automotive tech, even if you had if you worked within the automotive tech sector at PayPal, for example, you're still you're still based on you know, outside automotive tech what, what is one of like, or what was one of the biggest challenges for you to break into the industry or the biggest discrepancy that you saw from outside of automotive to inside automotive.

Ibrahim Mesbah 4:33

There's a lot of modes, right to really breaking into automotive and it starts with data, right? So essentially what we do is we do e-commerce, for parts right, to help dealerships sell more parts and serve your customer better. And access to that data is really hard, access to inventory is really hard, right? You have to go through all these Big integrations with all these DMS providers that rely on the customer to manually download and upload their inventory. So we've made a lot of progress over the years. But access to data still remains one of the biggest issues. And I know the better data, the more data we get, the more we can really build a much better experience that's going to convert even more. Right. So I think that's been the number one challenge is really garnering the right relationships, negotiating the right deals, so that we have more access to both data pricing and inventory.

Ilana Shabtay 5:39

I think that's a really important point. And even though you've successfully figured out how to get around it, I think, in general, the industry has to prioritize more accessible data, whether that's open API's, or, you know, giving the dealer more control of their data, whatever that looks like. And I think it's probably a mix of everything. I 100% agree, and I think the industry can do a lot more with data. Because right now it's super siloed. So I appreciate

Ibrahim Mesbah 6:08

that. Yeah, I'm sure we're gonna have a big discussion about that. I can't agree more. And I think when you look at the industry, definitely access to let's say, new car inventory data is a lot more accessible, right? Because that's traditionally then the biggest focus, right? still is. So it's a ton harder on the part side. But you know, I'm seeing movement on that front. Over the years, I've definitely seen more openness to share data. And you know, and things are getting more competitive, especially when you look at the aftermarket drive where data is so much more accessible. So yes, I absolutely agree. They're

Ilana Shabtay 6:46

wonderful. So let's, and this actually has a connection to your recent article and Dealer Marketing. As I mentioned, you are a Dealer Marketing Expert Panelist, and if you haven't checked out before who content you can find it on, but one of his recent pieces was what dealers want from their OEM programs. And the reason why I specifically reached out and wanted to talk about this on the podcast is one I like talking about controversial things on InsideAuto Podcast, I think it's important that we talk about it, and I don't think we talk enough about the, the OEM program structure, I think it's a little obsolete, I think it's not necessarily based on performance metrics anymore. There's a lot of bureaucracy involved. Of course, when you think about tier one, you have to have those guidelines understandable. But I think there's a lot of work to be done around OEM programs, and you, you know, better than I do, as, as you proved out here in this article, so let's talk about it a little bit, break down some of the points. And we can start with just one or two that you think are most important to dealers right now. And I know you also put out a survey telling us a little bit about that process and the responses that you got so that we can have a discussion here.

Ibrahim Mesbah 7:57

Yeah, no, absolutely. So yeah, so we sent a survey and targeted a lot of general managers, and really wanted to ask questions about essentially, where they felt the OEM programs could be better, how they were being received, are they delivering on the value? But there's also a lot of focus on the part side, right? So GM is focusing on, you know, what we found is, most of the programs are actually parts and service, which was interesting, and we didn't really quite expect, yeah. And we sent it to, I think, over the episodes, over 1000 gems, we got a lot better responses than then than we expected. So we have over 250, people responded. So there's definitely a lot of passion and a lot of interest on the topic. And, you know, we found that a lot of the gems wanted to really share, I'm hoping to get this out there so that we could really start the discussion and see if we can partner with our OEMs and really help address some of those points, right? But the key points come, you know, I think just started from the top as one better support right from the OEM. So communicate better communication upfront about the structure of the program, the why the how better support in terms of like Co Op dollars or ad spend dollars or training, right, training was a big theme. And then solutions that really work. So think about the customer and customer experience. Is it growing their sales? Is it improving efficiency, right, is it delivering on the value so those were kind of the three themes that came up over and over again. So we had a few graphs that we tried to look at the data and combine it in different ways, but I would sum that up in those three different areas right, better communication programs are easier to structure Training support and experience.

Ilana Shabtay 10:02

Yeah, and I think, um, let's talk a little bit about the co-op aspect and the cost just because I think that also influences A lot of it. And that can even be fought that can even fall under training and a bit just because there's so many questions around Co-op and breaking down what they're going to get reimbursed and what they're not, and what's allowed. So if you want to elaborate a bit on that, as well, if you had any responses on that, I'm not sure if you include that in your survey, but I'd love to hear about that as well. Because even from the vendor side, I'd love training on that. Much that we need to learn.

Ibrahim Mesbah 10:35

Yeah, so Okay, so if we take e-commerce, and I think a lot of our questions around e-commerce touch on this a bit, right? So it's a pretty competitive market, right? So you're competing not just against other dealers, but really more against the aftermarket, right? And when you look at total sales online, the OEMs have, there's maybe $4 billion in OEMs, OEM parts sold online. Right, versus almost, you know, over 20 billion writes, the rest is all aftermarket, right? And there's just online sales. So there's definitely a big gap there. And we believe we can close that gap. So how can the OEM program support the dealers and being more effective at competing, so you know, and OEMs do this on the collision side, wholesale collision, there's a lot of pricing programs that help close that price gap, and make the OEM parts more closer when it comes to a price parity buy, but on the on the co op site to right marketing dollars, right? Could the OEM help Co Op either the program fees, or a big part of the marketing dollars, if you know, the dealer is able to show that we're able to deliver a good return on every dollar expense, right, so that the money is not missing. So I think there's an opportunity to really structure these Co Op, I think these programs with Co Op of the values there, right so that the money is not wasted. And it shouldn't be a win-win for the OEM because they have higher margins on those parts. And the dealer, right, because it allows them to be more competitive, market better and grow their online sales.

Ilana Shabtay 12:20

Yeah, and it's interesting that you if this does really go back to the data point two, because it does have an upper hand against the aftermarket, if, if the person bought the car from them and and their customer within their database, and if that data was able to be leveraged in their marketing, which OEMs would then support with go up, you would, they wouldn't really be in a different place. So I think this goes hand in hand with a lot of what we spoke about some of the challenges in the industry, and, but also just different ways that OEMs can really help dealers in these programs. And you're right, the aftermarket, I hadn't even really thought about it. But the aftermarket is a whole different ball game in terms of competition. And so they really need that upper hand, they really need to be able to leverage that upper hand that they have, and that customer journey and the customer data so that they can actually create that experience for shoppers. So we'll get there, we'll get there. And the last thing that I wanted to touch on a bit more is the success of other dealers using this program. I'm not sure exactly if that's something that OEMs would share. But are there programs and this also can be found or training. But are there benchmarks in place? Or like best practices or things that dealers can access? To understand their performance? And or do they have the choice to move to different programs if they want? Are they locked in? Again, not sure if your if your survey touched on that, but I'd love to know your your opinion on that

Ibrahim Mesbah 13:51

survey, then really go touch on that. Right. But yeah, I mean, I think it depends on the category, right? So in general, let's say you're, you want to be part of a program for your dealership website and really marketing your new car inventory, right? There's a lot of players in that space. And there's a lot of choice, right? So typically, I would say yes, sir, the rest choice, I think, you know, touching on performance, right? How are the dealers doing and what do they need to do to be more successful? And how do they prepare in their region? Maybe I know, you know, from the OEM programs that we do have, we do share a lot of that data back to the OEM. But I think there's definitely an opportunity to share that back with the dealer and make it very actionable so that they could, you know, change whatever they need to change to be more competitive, more successful, get more value out of it, right? So yeah, we don't see that part of it as much because that's probably between the OEM and their regional reps and the dealer. But you know, we're going to be focusing more on there to really serve up at least what we see in our product, right? And just to drive that behavior and really awareness, right?

Ilana Shabtay 15:13

Yeah, I think that's great that you guys are initiating that. And if this all again, connectivity, being able to connect the dots, whether that's through data or through performance results, market share, whatever it might be, I think that's pretty much the common theme here. Especially for such a big industry. I mean, it's a small industry, but there's a lot of money in the industry, and it shouldn't be used well. So I love that you wrote about this, it opened my eyes to a lot of holes that that dealer sees in the automotive OEM programs, and I always see it through the vendor lens. So to see it that way. And thank you for sharing the survey results. Do you have any surveys coming up? Because

Ibrahim Mesbah 15:54

reach? Yeah, no, we probably do. I mean, we do these maybe once a quarter. So I don't have the topic off the top of my head, but I'd ask you to just follow us and our marketing team is pretty active on our blog on social media. And there's usually pieces out there before they go out.

Ilana Shabtay 16:11

That's great. Yes, please do fall, anything that you want to share with our listeners before we sign off here.

Ibrahim Mesbah 16:16

Yeah, we didn't really touch on experience very much. But I think it's an important point. And this is right, what we see in a lot of OEM programs is they're really structured with a lot of controls that might be OEM friendly, but they're not, and customer friendly. So we try to work really hard when we structure our OEM programs with OEMs to make sure that all right, if this is supposed to work and deliver a lot of value, we need to really focus on the end customer's experience. So it's always a balancing act, right? Like how far do you go? Are we structuring this to work great for the dealer or the OEM, and really compromise the experience? Or do you want to, so we're trying to move that pendulum because it's all as you know, today, it is very competitive. And it's all about the experience, right? So it's just a pretty key point and dealers see it as part of our survey that came up again, and again, there's a lot of legacy programs out there where the experience really hasn't kept up with the service levels that our customer today is expecting, right?

Ilana Shabtay 17:22

Yes, I'm glad you brought that up. I know that that was a big part of this article as well. I'll say two things about that. The first is that customer experience absolutely has to be a priority. I agree with you. But the last thing that you said there, I want to point out because I think that's an I want to emphasize that I think it's something that we often forget when we think about the customer experience, which is that consumer habits change, especially when they go through things like a global pandemic or an inventory shortage. And so not only does it have to be emphasized on the customer experience, but it absolutely has to be flexible, and you have to be able to adapt. So thank you so much for bringing that up. Because I think that is critical for any program, OEM programs. I know that was a big part of the article as well. So thank you for bringing that up. Anyone who has not seen the article, please head over to Dealer Marketing Magazine. And expert panelists are great. There are tons in there that will bring on to the podcast and that we've had on the podcast. But Ibrahim, thank you so much for joining us today. It was a pleasure to have you on.

Ibrahim Mesbah 18:19

Yeah, thank you very much for having me as a pleasure to spend some time with you.

Ilana Shabtay 18:23

You as well. For our listeners, if you like this episode, please tune in and subscribe to InsideAuto Podcast. We'll catch you next time. And Ibrahim, please follow expert panelists on Dealer Marketing. Thank you so much.

Outro 18:35

Thanks for listening to the InsideAuto Podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

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